Expanded metal mesh was the material of choice for Kew Garden’s Treetop Walkway to provide a walkway that is visually light, a discreet presence and at ease in its natural surroundings.
The Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew is a world-famous scientific organisation, internationally respected for its outstanding living collection of plants and world-class herbarium as well as its scientific expertise in plant diversity, conservation and sustainable development in the UK and around the world. Kew Gardens’ 132 hectares of landscaped gardens attract more than one million visitors per year.
To mark its ‘Year of the Tree’, in 2008, the Royal Botanic Gardens appointed internationally renowned and award-winning architects Marks Barfield to design and install an elevated walkway through its trees.
The team, who are behind the creation of the London Eye, aim to deliver landmark projects that are imaginative, sustainable, and a pleasure to experience. These criteria are all met in this treetop walkway.
Towering 18 metres into the air the walkway is 200m long and made up of 12 modular walkway trusses, connected by 10 circular ‘node’ platforms that provide opportunities for visitors to stop and enjoy the views across the walkway and down through the apertures in the expanded metal mesh.
The choice of material used was an important consideration to provide a walkway that was visually unobtrusive and required very little maintenance. Expanded metal mesh meets these requirements and is available in a range of materials, including steel, with our finishes able to provide additional protection against corrosion.
During construction, to save both time and minimise disruption to the sensitive environment, most of the walkway was pre-fabricated off-site.
The Rhizotron and Treetop Walkway, which opened on 24th May 2008, takes you first under-ground to explore a tree’s root system before taking visitors up into the air for a birds’ eye view above of the woodland canopy.
Able to accommodate up to 3000 visitors per day the walkway takes visitors past sweet chestnut, lime, broad-leaved oak and pine trees. Visitors may also hope to spot birds such as tawny owls, woodpeckers, kestrels and parakeets, as well as insects and bats at dusk.
The structure, which has won multiple awards such as the ICE Structures Award (2009), the Structural Steel Design Award (2009) and the Observer’s People’s Choice Award (2008), is a testament to what can be achieved through the imaginative use of sustainable and environmentally friendly expanded metal mesh, even in the most challenging of applications.
Further benefits and applications of our expanded metal mesh for walkways and ramps can be found here.